Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Customer Service...With A Smile?

It's been a frustrating day to say the least. One, the cat puked on the hallway floor at 2:30 in the morning. Guess who heard it? Guess who cleaned it up? Two, V wouldn't go down for a nap until way after his usual nap time this afternoon. At least he finally took a nap, though. While his nap was in progress, I decided to take a little time for myself. And, then, I wrecked my entire plan when I worried too much about money. Specifically, about whether or not our student loans will get paid on time. For the past few years, we've had our loan payments set to automatically debit from our checking account. It's two less bills I have to write out each month, though I have to remember to write them in the checkbook to keep everything balanced. Well, everything was fine and dandy until we moved and realized that there are no branches of our bank in our new city. We did what anyone would do and opened an account at another bank. However, we're keeping a little money in the old account until everything gets paid that's supposed to get paid. Here's my dilemma: Two weeks ago or thereabouts, I went into SallieMae's website to change the automatic debit information to our new checking account. I haven't received any confirmation from SallieMae stating whether or not everything went through, and B's student loan payment is supposed to go out in two days! I've tried looking through our accounts on-line to see if they can give me any information, but no such luck. I checked the FAQ, and all it told me is that it could take three to four weeks for the automatic debit information to go through. I decided to try calling SallieMae. Is it just me, or are the automatic voice message systems getting harder and harder to maneuver these days? All I wanted to do was to talk to a real live person and get a straight answer. However, it took me numerous times of pounding numbers into my cell phone before I got to where I wanted to be. Then, when I was finally put on hold for the next available representative, I was told (by the system) that I could put in my phone number, and someone would call me back, so I wouldn't have to wait on hold. Well, I declined that offer, especially since the wait was only going to be about eight minutes or so. I could be patient. Then, when someone finally answered, I got even more frustrated when the person on the other line could barely speak English. I think he understood what I asked of him, but what he told me didn't answer my question really. He kept telling me that the automatic debit went through. Okay, fine. Did it get changed to the new bank? He put me on hold at that point. When he came back on the line, he asked me AGAIN what bank I was needing on the account. When I told him, he said, yes, that the account would be debited from that bank. But, it still didn't answer my question. I wanted to know if it would be debited from that account IN TIME for my husband's next loan payment. It's one thing for everything to be set up correctly. It's quite another for it to be set up BEFORE something is supposed to happen with it. All he did was repeat to me that the account was set up to be automatically debited. He said that about four times. Finally, I said thank you, and hung up. I mean, am I being incomprehensible? You know, I understand why some companies outsource their jobs. However, if they're outsourcing customer service positions, they really should make sure their new employees not only speak the language, but understand exactly what the customer is asking. I couldn't understand him, and he couldn't understand me. There was a translation barrier somewhere that just wasn't being crossed. This has actually happened numerous times before, and I'm sure I'm not the only person it's happened to. That's one reason why I love the Internet. I don't have to bother with trying to explain my situation to someone who may not know what I'm talking about, or even what I'm saying. However, the Internet can't speak to me, and it can't always get me the information I want. It's just so frustrating sometimes. I tried calling my new bank to find out if they would have any information about our situation, since, after reviewing our account on-line, I had no luck there again. I've received a busy signal three times now. Smaller city means smaller bank branches, which means fewer employees and fewer people to answer customer questions.
Edited to add: I finally got a hold of someone at one of our bank's branches. She was very nice. She told me that they have no access to student loans, so she couldn't tell me if our loans will be automatically debited from there or not. She said I would just have to keep checking at the numbers I had for SallieMae. Yeah, like that's going to happen. I guess the only way to know for sure will be when our payments actually get taken out of our checking. Which means, if they're still set up with our old account, it'll become overdrawn, unless we put more money into it or make a one time on-line payment to our student loans to offset that possibility. God, I don't drink often, but I may need to open a bottle of wine tonight after dinner.
Updated To Add (Again): Hubby suggested I call SallieMae back, since I didn't get an answer I liked. I called yesterday and spoke to someone who obviously speaks English as a second language, but who was much more comprehensible. He understood my question, I understood his answer. After giving him a little more personal info, he was able to tell me that yes, everything was set up correctly. I was pretty much at ease and decided to wait and see what happens. Just checked our new account on-line, and it looks like everything's going through as it should! The most ironic thing about my call yesterday was that the gentleman with whom I spoke asked me to complete a survey afterward. One of the questions asked me if the representative had good communication skills, basically wondering if I could understand him. Wish I had taken that survey the day before!
Hope you're all having better luck than me.

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